Only one AFC team will have happy memories of the 2023 season. Even the Bills, who won the division, will feel they should have won more games. They inexplicably lost to the Jets, Patriots, and Broncos!
You could say none of them really hit the right notes. But what if we really mangled that musical metaphor? Here's the AFC teams as rock bands.
Buffalo Bills – Counting Crows
Because you never know when the guy leading the band is going to go totally off-script. What will he do? Who knows. Will it work? That’s 50-50 at best.
That’s right, Josh Allen is the Adam Duritz of the NFL, albeit with a more sensible haircut and fewer celebrity girlfriends. But at the end of the day, sometimes, he just has to throw the playbook out of the window.
Yes, it’s changed since Joe Brady took over from Ken Dorsey, but that’s because Brady has included more designed runs. Brady has just incorporated his tendency to ignore his receivers into the plan. When the receivers know they’re not getting the ball, they can at least block instead of running around waiting for a pass that isn’t coming.
It’s not bad, but it helps if the supporting cast has a rough idea of what’s going on. After all, everyone liked “Mr. Jones” the first couple of hundred times, but it needs freshening up now.
Miami Dolphins – Steely Dan
When you first see them, they look like they’ll be louder than Motorhead and totally rock your world. But then the yacht rock starts to groans of disappointment. There are disappointments, and then there’s the disappointment that can only come with losing four of your final six games.
It’s like Steely Dan naming their first album, “Can’t Buy a Thrill”. It sounds promising, but as soon as the first track, “Do It Again,” begins with a 20-second percussion solo, you’re overcome with foreboding thoughts.
Way back in Week 7, the Chiefs were the only AFC team with a better record than the Dolphins. There was a crackle of excitement in Miami every time fans thought about what lay ahead. But in reality, just like Donald Fagan and his boys, Mike McDaniel's charges perpetually promised more than they delivered.
Three of De’Von Achane’s first four games saw him over 100 rushing yards, but he only did that once in his next seven games!
Considering Mike McDaniel is famous for wearing Elvis sunglasses it's ironic the Dolphins season ended in the toilet.
New York Jets – Velvet Revolver
If Aaron Rodgers had stayed healthy all season, they would have been Guns ‘n’ Roses. But he didn’t; instead, Gang Green was left with Zach Wilson as their Scott Weiland. Every now and again, he looked like he could fill the boots of a bona fide legend.
But 90% of the time, he was just a dude in a hat screeching into a megaphone for no apparent reason.
The rest of the lineup was fine. In fact, like Slash, Breece Hall was the most talented man in the group. And they both have the world at their feet.
That makes Garrett Wilson Duff McKagan but without a degree in business and finance. Of course, that probably makes Allen Lazard the Steven Adler of the team, but the less said about that, the better.
New England Patriots – Van Halen (but without David Lee Roth)
Sure, there’s something there, but it’s just not very good. That was the most frustrating part of the 2023 Patriots. They just didn’t have the one thing a team (or band) needs to grab your attention: someone leading the charge who dazzles you.
That sort of makes Mac Jones the Sammy Hagar of the NFL. There’s some stuff he can do, but he’s never going to blow your mind.
People still want to see the band perform “Jump, " but it isn’t the same without the spandex leggings. People want to see Pop Douglas catch passes, but it’d be much more fun if Justin Fields threw them.